Rio de Janeiro
I must confess: I hate graphical poverty. What do you mean by that, you're asking yourself...
Well, I hate games that are either plain ugly AND don't have a graphical identity of it's own.
For example, the old Glory to Rome edition (not the Black Box or the italian/spanish/german/etc. editions), with it's total lack of cohesiveness for cliparts (they vary wildly in style) and terrible graphic design decisions (those gradients are really hard on the eyes), is what I call, a bad design.
On the meantime, Troyes, Tournay or Tigris & Euphrates, despite having an ugly appeal (for Troyes, if you take the art independently from the game, it's ugly by most people's standards), they work fantastically to implement it's theme on the game's art identity. Troyes and Tournay really shine a light on the games' historical period, with artwork that really resembles the art from that era, fitting typography (which could be made hard to read sometimes due to the lack of necessity to actually read it), so on and so forth.
Tigris & Euphrates, albeit having great drawings for art, is sometimes regarded as an ugly game mostly due to it's hard-to-see size. The actual art is phenomenal (see here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/stephengrahamwalsh?section_id=11099...), but is so small that it's really hard to see the details... BUT, it's amazing how everything ties together with the Ishtar Gate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishtar_Gate) motif, and it's cohesiveness with the theme (despite most people regarding it as an abstract game).
Well... that explained, I must confess that I'm a redesigner addict. And a terrible one at that! I've started countless redesign projects, and most of them never got 100% finished. This year I came to realize that, and went away with a schedule to finish my projects to 100% completion. Yea, I'm doing it... I swear! Really, I will!
Anyway... during the creative downtime I had during the creation of Gunrunners, and during my free time, I've been working on something I've been postponing for about 2 years: my redesigned and combined version of Dog & TAC.
I decided to either find little dog miniatures, to represent the player's pawns or find some other suitable animal to do so. After days and days of browsing horse games (hello Winner's Circle and hello Long Shot!) and dog games, I came into knowledge of the newly-released-mostly-unknown Dog Royal, which soon got incorporated into it as well... and consequently, I went ahead and looked for other Pachisi-like games as well... and only one got me interested: Joker Marbles.
With that out of the way, I went with my now-way-more-complex Dog/TAC/Dog Royal/Joker Marbles all-in-one-box game.
But I still needed a theme...
For some unknown reason (more like "I don't remember why"-reason), I decided to go for Frogs. The little frogs would jump from lilypad to lilypad, until they get to the land area (their safe area). That worked perfectly for what I wanted.
After many hours listing cards and checkin' on rules, I came into the conclusion that the ONLY interesting card in Joker Marbles was the obligatory-split 9-card, so I dropped it and just made that a single card which could be added to the other games instead.
OK, after that was out of the way, I went ahead and created the game's logo, blatantly based off the DOG logo, I wanted to keep it as a homage to the original:
After that, came the player boards...
(shown here with the 5th safe-area space, used only in Joker Marbles, and which will be dropped later)
...and the intersection boards...
DOG! & TAC version
DOG! Royal version
...and the central board, which came to be later in the design process.
Here, a mockup of the 4-Player and 6-Player DOG! / TAC boards:
And a mockup of the 4-Player and 6-Player DOG! Royal boards:
next: the cards!